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  1. #1

    Default Aqueduct Gate Crew just Sucks

    So many times I have seen horses totally sideways up against the gates; & the guy on the head is still trying to forcefully drag the horse in around a literal corner. Worse yet, there is some guy whipping (lead strap use included) on side body or side hip. Yeah right, like that only makes the horse press even harder sideways across the back pf all the loading gates.

    Overally, I find the rest of their general handling skill fairly shoddy too.

    I do not see the rest of the tracks with such rough & ignorant handling when I watch online.
    Closest thing to a sauna around here would be tarping over a few cows, hold a bucket of water & light a match.



  2. #2
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    Default While I haven't watched in a while ..

    Just how much do you think those guys make? Have you ever tried to, when time absolutely was of the essence, to load a horse into a starting gate?

    You shouldn't be criticising the gate crew, you should be criticizing whoever taught the horse to load in the starting gate to begin with. And when someone takes a notion that they aren't going in, don't want to race, don't want to load, don't like the looks the next over horse gave them, it isn't like they can just hold everyone else in there while Dobbin makes up his mind.


    There are sometimes I go "Uh, that's not gonna work guys", but mostly it is a thankless, risky job that most of us wouldn't do for the small hourly wage I'm sure is all they get.

    So head on up to NY and get yourself a job as head-gate-person-trainer and see how it works for you.


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  3. #3
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    Personally I wish they'd do away with the starters inside the stalls. Most tracks around the world don't use them. I'm not criticizing the crew, I just think it's dangerous, and unnecessary.
    "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George

    What's the status on Tuco?


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  4. #4
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    I am going to be polite, but your comments made me very angry. I worked for years ponying racehorses and have spent more time than I care to remember watching the gate crew work. They have a thankless job, which IMO is the second most dangerous job in racing (Jockey being most dangerous). They have to load horses quickly to keep the other riders and horses safe. I have seen them literally save riders lives when a horse has flipped and pinned him against the gate. With no thought for their own safety I have seen them lift, push, pull, strain and save lives.

    If a horse doesn't want to load I have seen them lay down, strike, flip over, bolt, kick, bite you name it. I think these guys are not appreciated enough.

    If you think they are not doing a good job then
    YOU TRY IT please.
    My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!


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  5. #5
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    Armchair quarterback...I agree with lpcutter, however gate crews can vary from track to track, as well as starters. Some are going to be better than others no doubt. I can't comment on Aqueducts crew at the moment, but horses and how they are schooled and react play a huge part.

    As a former rider and excersise person, I have nothing but praise for the gate crews that helped keep me safe over the years. It's a damn tough job and have seen many get hurt, but are right back on the job ASAP.


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  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 2ndyrgal View Post
    Just how much do you think those guys make? Have you ever tried to, when time absolutely was of the essence, to load a horse into a starting gate?

    You shouldn't be criticising the gate crew, you should be criticizing whoever taught the horse to load in the starting gate to begin with. And when someone takes a notion that they aren't going in, don't want to race, don't want to load, don't like the looks the next over horse gave them, it isn't like they can just hold everyone else in there while Dobbin makes up his mind.


    There are sometimes I go "Uh, that's not gonna work guys", but mostly it is a thankless, risky job that most of us wouldn't do for the small hourly wage I'm sure is all they get.

    So head on up to NY and get yourself a job as head-gate-person-trainer and see how it works for you.
    Yep!!!



  7. #7
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    What an ignorant post. The starting gate is one of the most dangerous places Ive ever had to deal with horses. Not only does the gate crew have to lead their horse in the gate, in an area so narrow there is no, absolutely no room for error, has to stand on a tiny ledge, holding his horse steady, making sure he is facing forward, not ducking or trying to rear, which they do all the time. Has to make sure he is standing on all 4s squarely, as many horses tend to want to sit down. Has to pay attention to his horse, the jock, the horses on either side of him, and be ready for the starter. He's in there with a thousand pounds of dynamite ready to go off. When things go bad in the gate, they go bad in a big hurry with no time for anything but gut reaction. Ive seen so many crew members literally save the lives of jocks or horses with quick reactions.

    Their job isnt to look pretty, its to insure the safety of rider and horse and insure a good start. Go to a track one morning and watch the crew working with horses. Its a tough dangerous job. You might not be so quick to judge.


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  8. #8
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    Default

    I don't think OP is totally rude or ignorant. If you haven't actually been involved in the process it can look pretty unorganized on television. You have to remember that they have a very dangerous job to do, and a very short window in which to get it done. That said, I have come across some gate crews that just don't measure up.

    The main problem seems to be that often times gate crew workers don't have a whole lot of feel for the horses. My biggest complaint is that some of the guys that HAVE to have the death grip on your horse's head, and/or shove their nose into the front of the gate. Geez guys, 95% of the time the horse would be BETTER off if you'd just let it stand there.

    As for loading, again they have a very short time frame and a limited bag of tricks. Not saying it's okay to go after the horse, but I can understand getting a little desperate. I've helped load horses into the gates at the farm before, and I can tell you, it is NOT fun. These guys take everyone's crap, jockeys, trainers, owners, exercise riders, and surely plenty from the tracks that employ them.

    However, the system could stand to be revamped or "cleaned up" a little bit. An interesting post.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelico View Post
    The main problem seems to be that often times gate crew workers don't have a whole lot of feel for the horses. My biggest complaint is that some of the guys that HAVE to have the death grip on your horse's head, and/or shove their nose into the front of the gate. Geez guys, 95% of the time the horse would be BETTER off if you'd just let it stand there.
    Why does there have to be someone in there holding the horse in the first place? I could see if it was a special request for a problem horse, but think it's odd that it's the default approach. As you say, most horses will just stand there no problem.



  10. #10
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    OP expressed an opinion about a particular gate crew, not all gate crews.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
    Why does there have to be someone in there holding the horse in the first place? I could see if it was a special request for a problem horse, but think it's odd that it's the default approach. As you say, most horses will just stand there no problem.

    Hmmm I probably should have worded that differently... I didn't mean to paint them all with the same brush, many do let the horses have their "space", it's just the cocky ham handed guys that cause problems.

    I have seen too many jockeys and even horses saved by the guys in the gates to agree with doing away with them.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester



  12. #12
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    They are there for safety. When one horse acts up it can start a chain reaction very fast. So now instead of one rider and horse in trouble, you could have more than a few.


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  13. #13
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    I'm remembering a post that had a link to an almost nasty accident at the gate. The quick thinking and obviously quick bodied gate handler saved the day. They have a very scary and dangerous (and thankless!) job.
    "All top hat and no canter". *Graureiter*



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
    Why does there have to be someone in there holding the horse in the first place? I could see if it was a special request for a problem horse, but think it's odd that it's the default approach. As you say, most horses will just stand there no problem.
    Most horses don't just stand there. With no one on their head, they will look to the left, look to the right, rear, sit, root their heads down. They have to be standing perfectly still with their heads pointed forward standing on all fours at the break. If their heads are turned, or they are stepping back at the break, they break badly and lose all chance. For an owner, the gate crew is your best friend.



  15. #15
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    I have watched 1,000's, perhaps 10's of 1000's of races over the years where there was no one, or just one or two, handlers in gate. I have never seen the chain reaction meltdown described above.

    On the subject of safety, how come helmets are not mandatory for gate crews?


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
    I have watched 1,000's, perhaps 10's of 1000's of races over the years where there was no one, or just one or two, handlers in gate. I have never seen the chain reaction meltdown described above.

    On the subject of safety, how come helmets are not mandatory for gate crews?
    I thought helmets were mandatory for gate crew members...

    Halo explained it much better than I did. The handler should guide the horses head in the correct spot, in the V of the gate, and above all, keep their heads UP. I was referring to the guys that try to force the issue, most horses will be better off and settle without being manhandled. It seem worse with crews that also handle QH's.
    Last edited by Angelico; Mar. 3, 2013 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Misspelled gate

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


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  17. #17
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    I thought helmets were mandatory for gate crew members..

    At some tracks the loaders don't wear them. (I watch lots of TVG.) I wonder, if at those tracks, a loader does want to wear one while the others are not, that he/she can (should be, it's their head, right).

    Question: Sometimes I see a loader facing the horse and trying to pull them into the gate. As we've all been taught, facing the horse & pulling is not how you get them to go forward. But, I'm wondering if they do this to avoid getting run over/into/something like that?



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
    I have watched 1,000's, perhaps 10's of 1000's of races over the years where there was no one, or just one or two, handlers in gate. I have never seen the chain reaction meltdown described above.

    On the subject of safety, how come helmets are not mandatory for gate crews?
    What country are these races from? Hard to believe that you have never seen a chain reaction when a horse rears, flips, or just acts plain unruly in the gate. There have been countless races where more than one rider has to step off untill they can get the horses settled.


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  19. #19
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  20. #20
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    Unless you've been in there, don't knock them. Horses have died at the gate. People have died at the gate. (I remember reading an account on a racing forum of a fan who was at the Santa Anita the day jockey Alvaro Pineda was killed, and seeing the horse come back through the tunnel and paddock with blood and brains all over the tack. See Jane Schwartz's Ruffian book for more on that incident.)

    NY has a long history of having good gate crews, outriders, etc. Certainly better than a LOT of other places. Things to keep in mind: tracks get what they pay for. Our local track cut the gate crew's pay last year and it showed. I'd think a circuit with a good, strong HBPA would be able to negotiate to retain the more experienced hands who do earn their keep. Also, the crew working the gate in the morning, working with the horses and training them are the same as in the afternoon.
    It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati


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